July 2011 - Posts
As I've mentioned before, I like to make lists. Lists define my plans for the day and keep me on track. Sometimes, I even strategize a list of daily goals for a quilt project, so that I can get it done within a certain time frame. Well, last week's Challenge started one of those goals. I set a deadline for completion of a quilt by committing to enter it into a quilt show. I have been working away at the FMQ at least every other day. Since the quilt entry is August 11th, I only have twelve days left to finish the quilt.
Finishing includes (and here's my list): 1) the final quilting, 2) burying the remaining quilting threads, 3) making a binding, 4) adding the binding, 5) hand stitching down the binding, 6) adding a hanging sleeve, and 7) adding a label. There is plenty of time to complete this quilt. Today, Sue's Sunday Challenge is to complete the rest of the FMQ in my background fabric. If this moves along quickly, I may even be able to finish the finer quilting detail in the applique picture of my granddaughter's face. The remainder of the week can be used to make and attach the binding and hanging sleeve. Then, I will be able to "reveal" the quilt with next Sunday's Challenge 3 - and three is my lucky number.
I have been quilting on a wallhanging that I plan to enter in the St. John's Mint Festival Quilt Show. Some of the quilting is just straight lines, but currently, I am doing FMQ. Everytime that I begin a new machine quilting project, I take several steps to improve upon my results. Though I consider myself only a "Tried & True Novice", I thought I would share 10 tips for getting started with FMQ that have been useful for me.
1. Begin by cleaning the lint from the sewing machine. I use the brush that came with the machine, as well as, some canned air. I know that some places tell you not to use the canned air on your computerized machine, but I met a Bernia dealer that says she does it all the time.
2. Oil the bobbin hook. Check with your manufacturers instructions before oiling anything on your machine, especially computerized machines. Many do not require oiling; mine does. I always run scrap fabric without thread through the machine after oiling to remove any residue that could get onto the quilt during the FMQ.
3. Put in a new needle. This is something I do whenever I start any new project, not just a FMQ project. Needles get bent or develop burrs. Changing the needle can resolve a lot of issues. Needles, like thread, are a preference. I've tried out different needles and am currently trying out a Schmetz 75/11 quilting needle.
4. Adjust the bobbon tension. Generally, a lower bobbon tension allows smoother movement of the quilt and doesn't cause those taunt threads around curves on the back side. Again, check the instruction booklet that came with your sewing machine to determine how to lower the tension. There may even be information on FMQ in your booklet.
5. Put on the FMQ foot. This is likely a foot that you will have to purchase.
6. Lower the feed dogs. I know this seems obvious, but, I quilted quite a bit of a small wallhanging once without lowering the feed dogs and couldn't figure out why I was having so much trouble maneuvering the quilt.
7. Clear everything around the sewing machine to allow for adequate space to maneauver the quilt. You may even need additional tables to help hold up larger quilts. Otherwise, the drag from the weight of the quilt will cause difficulties with quilting.
8. Put on FMQ gloves to provide additional grip while quilting. I actually prefer Sue Nickels suggestion of using the fingertips of Playtex gloves. They are easy to find at most any grocery store and inexpensive. As well, they don't make my hands sweat.
9. Practice the design on a fabric sandwich before actually applying it to the quilt. This allows me time to warm up and get comfortable.
10. Hold both the top & bottom thread taunt as you begin the stitching to be sure the thread doesn't bunch up on the back. Take a few very tiny stitches at the beginning and end to avoid a knot on the back. And, leave an extra length of thread at the beginning and end of the FMQ. The longer lengths of thread are easier to handle when knotting and burying the thread in the quilt sandwich.
I'm sure that there are many other tips for FMQ. The more you work at it the better you become.
My daughter heard about my recent blogging and decided she had to get involved in writing her own. Like mother, like daughter, so the saying goes. We seem to have a lot more in common than I ever realized. We both journal. We both like to read. We recently discussed books and both like historical British romances with Jane Austen being our favorite author and Pride & Prejudice our favorite novel. I hope I haven't over-exaggerated that statement too much. Of course, she likes the newer movie version with Keira Knightley, while I prefer the one with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. Then, we both are plagued with OCD - we organize, make lists, ruminate (over-anaylze as my daughter would say), and just plain obsess about any and everything that goes on in our lives.
She vowed as a teenager she would never learn to sew, much less quilt. Then, she got into quilting a few years ago to prove that projects can be finished. There's a whole other UFO, I mean story, to go along with that comment but that will have to wait for another blog. I mean, where would quilters be without UFO's? She also stitched a couple of other quilts since then, but her life became far to hectic for sewing with two jobs, college classes and her social networking. Besides, when she moved 40 miles away, she no longer had the luxury of using my Bernina and the circa 1980 Singer I passed on to her was hard to use after meeting my computerized version. Maybe she'll be bitten by the quilt bug again, but I'd really just settle for a grandchild; which would definitley leave no time for my daughter's blog or sewing. But, it would give me another occasion to make a quilt.
I cannot get a handle on my UFO's. Everytime I cross one off the list - yes, there is an actual list - two more get written down. For the last two years, I've made it a goal to only finish UFO's and not buy any new fabric. Not a goal like a New Year's Resolution, because I know I will never stick to it. There's always another quilt that has to be made and that quilt will need fabric that I don't have. I recently found out that I am expecting my second grandchild. There's another occasion to start a quilt. I also divide my UFO list into categories: patterns, patterns with all the fabric, fabric collections with no pattern, partially completed projects, pieced quilt tops, projects that I'm quilting - hand and machine - and quilt tops that just need binding or a label. Without a list, some of my UFO's have been forgotten, buried at the bottom of a tub or drawer. At least once a year, I pull out the list and make updates. And then, I set a new goal to only finish UFO's and not buy any new fabric.
How do you track your quilt projects?
Tonight was supposed to be "work in the garden" night. Then, it rained, which was really needed. So, instead of gardening, I get to do some quilting.
The machine quilting is progressing on the wall hanging of my granddaughter made from a photograph. I began the upper body portion last night and plan to finish the quilting on this area tonight. So far, the quilting has been done with a clear embroidery foot to make it easier to see the edges of the small applique pieces. I plan to do free motion quilting to fill in the larger spaces. I'm thinking of using large pebbles, swirls, and squiggles. Then, I can move into the pieced blue background made up of 5" charm squares. The plan is to do a maze type design in each square. I know that some of you are waiting to see the quilt, but I want to have the quilting complete before revealing it.
Here's to Rainy Days!
St. Johns, Michigan has a Mint Festival every year. A friend of mine told me about their quilt show and I was able to attend a couple of years ago. She's told me I should enter quilts in the show, so this year, I made up my mind to do so. I just finished filling out the quilt entry forms to mail in my August 1st. They will accept two quilts, plus one quilt for the challenge themed Really Red. As I indicated in previous posts, I am working on finishing the quilting on a quilt made from a photograh. The other quilt is called Twisted Sister from an Ami Simms class. I also am entering the Challenge with a block of the month I completed a few years ago called Sue through the Year. It was a block of the month redwork kit of sunbonnet sue patterns that I purchased through Country Stitches in Lansing, MI - nice quilt shop if you're ever in the area. Check out the quilt show August 12-14, if you're in the area. Here's a picture of my sunbonnet sue redwork quilt. Enjoy!
I was able to accomplish quite a bit of machine quilting on my planned Sunday project. I took a class at my guild a year ago and made a quilt from a photograph of my granddaughter. The photo only includes her head and upper body that was done with fabrics in shades of cream. I have been reluctant to take on the challenge of the quilting because it seemed so daunting. But, I was able to quilt most of her head with the exception of the facial details around the eyes. Rather than free motion quilt, I used a clear embroidery foot, so that I could view the small pieces as I proceeded around them and provided greater control. I am pleased with the progress and will work on the upper body next.
The challenge in everyday life is balancing home, work, family and play - not necessarily in that order. We all look forward to our week-ends and plan out what we can accomplish; at least I do. I'm a "list" person and often track projects to move them along. Unfortunately, I have far too many "projects" going and it can be challenging getting anything finished. Having a goal with a deadline helps. I want to enter a quilt in a local community quilt show in August. The entry deadline is August 1st, which is fast approaching. Today's challenge is to get the machine quilting going on the quilt I plan to enter. I seem to complete my best work under a time crunch. Hopefully, the day will be fruitful.
I just read an article in the current issue of Quilters Newsletter titled "Thoroughly Modern Quilting" by Mary Kate Karr-Petras (August/September). It was so refreshing to read what I've been trying to verbalize for a few years. The traditional quilt guild has lost it's luster for me and it's as if I have just discovered what is beyond the rainbow in the quilting community. Organizations that are bogged down in rhetoric and policy do not encourage creativity. Block exchanges, blottos, charm swaps, and round robins are dated group projects that do not ring true for the modern day quilter. Artsy is nice, but not functional. Perfection is not the name of the game. The craft of quilting offers a vast array of techniques so that there is something for virtually everyone. Technology, social networking and entrepeneurship are the avenues of the modern day quilter. There is so much more available to ignite the imagination and spur one's creativity. Google "quilting blogs" and see what comes up. It'll be refreshing.